Do Not Confuse Cyclical with Structural

The creator of the Buttonwood column in The Economist flew into Toronto from London to give a wide-ranging speech on the state of the world and how the economics, and investing, would play out over the next few years. Richard Cookson, now with the impressive Citi bank, treated us and scared us by explaining that in the developed world, we have too few assets for all the investment dollars to get the returns that they want. Citi is investing very carefully into the emerging markets but with the Middle East unrest, the risk costs are rising rapidly. 
As Richard says, "Egypt matters as now investors have to add higher risk to emerging markets."
My favourite nugget was Richard's elegant statement, 
"It is a cardinal error to confuse cyclical change with structural change." 
Citi's breakfast speaker series run by  Peter Charrington, CEO, North America, certainly highlighted the details of why we are in a time of great structural shifts. I'm sure Peter would welcome a call for more information. 
Contact: Leslie Bains +1 (212) 559-2216

Now Here's How to Push up Innovation

I am blown away every time I appear on BNN The Pitch by the business owners looking to raise capital. I am impressed with the sheer guts of these entrepreneurs to go on TV, pitch their business and then take a hammering from the private equity people. Their willingness to give it a go is the ability that truly sets apart the wheat from the chaff.
In this show, Matthew Thompson of Protranscript, absolutely nails his presentation and should be able to raise more money than he is seeking with his entrepreneurial drive.
 Andrew Bell introduces the panel: Rick Nathan, Managing Director, Kensington Capital Partners, Stewart Thornhill, Executive Director, Pierre L. Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship, Richard Ivey School of Business, Jacoline Loewen, Director of Loewen & Partners.
I apologize for the link below. I wish I could embed the video but I guess BNN wants you to go to their website. So here it is:
http://watch.bnn.ca/the-pitch/february-2011/the-pitch-february-16-2011/

Universities slow to understand private equity's importance

Slowly the universities are beginning to see that private equity is here to stay and is morphing into ever more useful formations. Useful to developing an economy chock block full of entrepreneurial businesses flourishing because they are being fed enough capital by high risk takers, not bankers.
I thought that you may be interested in a source of private equity materials. Wharton's has a new section on its website with PE articles:  Read Here.
The link was sent to me by Leah Noble, CA, JD/MBA and UWO Faculty of Law/Richard Ivey School of Business. Yes, Leah has a a CA and nearly and MBA/law degree combined and a great personality too.

Chinese treat Private Equity like Rock Stars

Watch for China to become the world's center of private equity within five to 10 years, according to David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group. 
Paving the way for this top ranking are strong economic growth, myriad opportunities, little competition and a mostly laissez-faire attitude towards business. The Chinese respect capitalism's power to create a good economy.
David says, "When I'm in Washington, D.C., people are barraging me, saying that I'm not paying enough taxes.... In China, people want my autograph ... private-equity professionals are like rock stars."

How to Explain Your Business Value

Stories or metaphors are easier to understand than fact laden PowerPoints. Here is an example from Mathguy on how to explain something complex to your customer.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Rl1xgT3REE

Is it Dawn or Dusk for Private Equity?

Private equity investors saw record yearly earnings in the boom years of 2005 to 2008 as easy access to financing led to ever-larger leveraged deals. 
Then it all came to a halt with the global financial meltdown. 
In 2009, PE firms with reasonable liquidity weathered a tough year as many put their portfolio companies through rigorous restructurings. 
This year, talk is slowly turning from retrenchment to opportunity, at least in the U.S. and Asia, however, private equity managers remain concerned about the broader economic environment, particularly in Europe, where the PE market faced further contraction even before the most recent sovereign debt crisis hit.

Advertising companies say demographics are harder to track online

As social media outgrows traditional media, and women users outnumber men, Blakley explains what changes are in store for the future of media.

Business Sales Ramp Up in 2011

Many owners are not ready to sell their business, either emotionally or business-wise. Then a health problem or a bad year forces their hand. Well, the past few years have been a time to cut unnecessary expenses, make ends meet and to patiently wait for the market to rebound.
But 2010 saw a slight improvement in the business-for-sale market and many experts expect that 2011 will be a turning point. Financing options are improving for buyers and banks are putting a new focus on lending.
So, if you're thinking of selling your business this year, here are four tips to maximize your profit
Plan Today for the End 
Steven Covey said "Keep the End in Mind" when planning today, even if it is 10 years away. Like they do for any big purchase, business buyers will do their research before signing on the dotted line. That means it's important for sellers to be ready to demonstrate their business is worth the asking price. Make sure your financial records are kept in order. 
Keep a minimum of three years of documents, including expense records. These are essential to establish buyer trust in the economic history of the business. Over-reliance on one or a few key customers and any outstanding legal issues are actually a target for some private equity firms.
Don't forget the physical elements of the business as well. Tidy up and get done those building improvements such as painting the storefront, cleaning up the distribution facility or re-decorating the interior. The physical appearance is often the first impression a buyer gets, so make sure it's a positive one.
Understand Your Fair Price
To set your asking price accurately, you need to know where you are in the market compared to other businesses for sale. Overestimating your value can lead to a long and difficult sale process, while underestimating will leave money on the table. Expect an improved selling environment in 2011, but don't make the mistake of asking for pre-recessionary prices.
Take a look at your own financials as well. If your business' revenue and cash flow have declined, take that into consideration. Buyers will. 
The downturn is here to stay and looking back at past year's revenues will not make buyers agree that those days will return. The goal is to set a price that will attract the greatest number of serious buyers and enable you to close a deal at the highest possible price.
Market Professionally
One way to get a leg up on the competition and ensure the best possible outcome is to hire an accomplished business advisor. Check references carefully and see if you can find additional references they don't provide themselves. 
Be Prepared To Offer Financing
In today's market, seller financing is essential. That means you may be required to take a minimum of 20 percent of the sale price in the form of a buyer note that the buyer will pay back over time, with interest. This also means that you'll have an investment in the business even after the sale. The buyer and lender will expect you to participate in a successful transition with the new owner and to help get them off to a strong start.